How To Find Middle C

June 30, 2010 | 24 comments

I slide onto the bench, settling in front of 88 black and white keys. Before I let fingers rest, curving on ivory, I find middle C.

It’s the first note a child learns from her teacher. For her first two weeks as a piano student, my daughter lay a pencil flat across middle C so it wouldn’t blur into the stretching, creamy path of keys.

Before long, she had mastered middle C, no longer needing a pencil as a guide. Yet, whether we’re 8 or 38 or 78, we pianists continue to find middle C first, if even subconsciously.

Then the fingertips dance on keys, and we weave melodies in soothing legato or hopping staccato. This is how we make music.

A few times a week, I slow down and make my ways to the keys, slipping in beside my daughter or by myself to play the songs from my old Methodist hymn-book — songs that I so rarely get to sing anymore.

Last night, I pulled back the bench, just before tuck-ins. I pulled out my Mom’s old hymnal with the gold-embossed emblem, and pressed it open to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I lay fingers on either side of Middle C.

And my skin tingled, right up my back. For I pondered the song of souls and my own Middle C.

When it comes to the song being woven of this life, I want Christ to be the Middle C of my being.

Yes, He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. But He is also the Center.

When I was a child, teachers in my church-basement Sunday School rooms pointed Him out, lay a pencil down like the beam of a cross so I could find Him easily. Teachers like Rose and Hortense prayed that we’d find Him on our own, after they weren’t alongside to guide us anymore.

But I grew up, slept in on Sundays, preferring “Church of St. Mattress” over the sanctuary down the street.

Then I grew older still, yearned again for the melody of faith to break through the dissonance of a broken world. I found Middle C on Calvary, where crossbeams met in the middle and where a river still flows red for me.

I bowed low before Christ who is the Center, and discovered that I still knew how to find the ever-present Middle C. For even though I left, He never had. He has always been. He sounds the same as He always has — never-changing — and at last, I could hear the consistent song of the ages.

Christ keeps order in the chaos, the Steady Tone ringing through days and years and millennia.

And today, Middle C hums in me, keeps me in tune. He is my center.

He is the song I sing. And I join the chorus of the ages:

Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday and
today and

— Hebrews 13:8

holy experience

Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp in her Walk With Him Wednesday series. These days, we’re writing about the Spiritual Practice of Rest. I find rest at the keys, slowing to play old melodies. I carry Middle C within me all my days. He brings daily rest to weary souls. His yoke is easy.


Related: Looking for a good book on slowing down and rest? Consider Ann Kroeker’s “Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families.”

by | June 30, 2010 | 24 comments


  1. Red Letter Believers

    I don't know music, but i can understand being 'centered.' That place where i can rest and wait is perfect. For me, my "c' is sitting on the side of a creek and listening.

  2. Rebecca Ramsey

    I love this. Christ as my middle C, the center of my being and my actions. May the songs of my day be music to His ears!

  3. Lindy

    Thank you! My familiy is full of musicians and I understand finding the C. Thank you for helping me center today!

  4. deb

    great analogy,
    and I love that song.

  5. Andrea

    AMEN….I want Christ to be my "middle C" too!

  6. Shirl

    Beautifully put, as always!

  7. ~*Michelle*~

    This was music to my ears….(pun intended)

    beautiful post, Jennifer!

  8. elizabeth

    Middle C – thank you this. I needed this reminder/correction in my life…I've been a bit out of tune lately.

  9. Melissa Runcie | Madabella

    It is beautiful when we are centered and grounded in Christ. All too often I try to align myself only to find myself out of tune in so many ways…I suppose that is why God says, "Be still (or cease striving) and know that I am God."

    P.S. I am leading a 4-week online bible study series on REST. If you feel led, please come on over! 🙂

  10. jasonS

    I'm sure my being a musician helps, but I think this post is so wonderful! Beautifully written and such a profound point. Thank you Jennifer.

  11. Sara

    Oh friend, you can play a song for me to sing any day. I do love stopping by as I always leave feeling encouraged and today ready to sing a song about our middle c.

    happy day,

  12. Kelly Langner Sauer

    I do still do this when I play. an apt metaphor.

  13. alicia

    I will never look at Middle C again as I sit at the piano- love it!

  14. Julie Gillies

    Hi Jennifer,

    What a beautiful analogy. I found the middle C on my piano at the age of 5, and Jesus, my Main C, at the same time. He helps me make beautiful music.

  15. Laura

    This is beautiful, Jennifer. He is the center. Oh, yes. Oh, yes.

  16. Lyla Lindquist

    Every. Single. Time.

    You find a way to point to Jesus.

  17. Kay @ Off the Beaten Path

    Jennifer, right now I'm hoping my son can find Middle C. He's in college and you know what that means. He often worships St. Mattress too! He has a church he goes to occasionally, but he has failed to go beyond that at all – no small group, few Christian friends, worldly priorities. He's a good kid and doesn't balk at all when it comes to church and even small group here at home, but when he's away at school he seems to lose Middle C. I'd appreciate your prayers for Daniel.

    Lovely analogy – really spoke to me this morning in reference to my kids.

  18. Lisa notes...

    (I don't think my comment posted…I'll try again.)

    Christ as Middle C really resonates with me. Thanks for giving me food for thought today…

  19. Beth.. One Blessed Nana

    i love this post! as a music lover and flute player, it really spoke to my heart.

    thanks, Jennifer. you always bless.

  20. S. Etole

    It's good to know where to center, isn't it …

  21. Suzanne

    What a great metaphor! When I sit down at the piano, I always look for middle C first. That's the way it should be with Jesus every morning when we rise. But somehow, in our much-too-busy lives, many times we miss that opportunity or choose to do something much less important than connecting with the Lover of our souls. Great object lesson. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Susan DiMickele

    This spoke to me — as a piano player (in my youth) who now watches my 9-year-old son learn the keys. Middle C is everything. I also find that when I now take the time to play, it helps me rest.

  23. Anne Lang Bundy

    I LOVE this! I'm continually delighted by you finding Jesus EVERYwhere.

    Now that you've got 'C' and 'Y' covered, I'll be wondering how many other letters of the alphabet you have divine connections for. (Or did I already miss some?)

  24. Karen

    Oh, Jennifer, how I needed this today…What a Friend We Have in Jesus was the very first song I learned to play on the piano…taught to me by my dear paternal grandmother…

    I needed this word…"Christ keeps order in the chaos, the Steady Tone ringing through days and years and millennia."….

    Thank you, sister….


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest